New Legislation for Cuban Immigrants

Texas Congressmen Henry Cuellar (D) and Blake Farenthold (R) have recently introduced a new bill called the Correcting Unfair Benefits for Aliens Act or (CUBA). As stated by its acronym, the legislation deals with Cuban immigration. The bi-partisan bill aims to establish the same immigration standards for Cuban immigrants as they would be set for any other immigrant.

Currently, Cuban immigrants are protected by the Cuban Adjustment Act of 1966, signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson, four years after the tense Cuban Missile Crisis. The legislation allowed easier migration for Cubans into the United States. They were given special treatment, usually as refugees, to seek asylum in America and escape Fidel Castro’s Communist regime. The bill also allowed for U.S. citizens to bring their families member living in Cuba into the United States with less difficulty.

The new legislation from the two Texas congressmen is configured to repeal to the old law. Though many Cubans have taken advantage of the old law for decades, which has allowed for Cuban communities to flourish in American cities. Normalizing relations with Cuba would also mean normalizing its immigration.

Congressman Cuellar stated the following:

“The preferential immigration status and benefits we bestow on Cuban migrants, through the Cuban Adjustment Act, the Refugee Education Assistance Act and the wet foot/dry foot policy, are relics of a bygone era and a cold war that has long since passed. With the president’s historic visit to the country this week as well as the normalization of relations, we shouldn’t lose sight of the thousands of people from regions like Central America who are fleeing serious threats from drug violence and face a disadvantage when compared with Cubans. The need remains for comprehensive immigration reform, but in the meantime, we shouldn’t be handing out special status and benefits for a select group.”

In partnership with his congressional colleague, Congressman Farenthold also stated that:

“With President Obama restoring diplomatic relations with Cuba, the immigration preferential treatment given to Cubans who enter the United States no longer makes sense. We are seeing an influx of Cubans at the Texas-Mexico border who are immediately admitted to this country and have an extremely fast pathway to citizenship, and a generous taxpayer funded benefits package. The State of Texas is already seeing a 60 percent increase in migrants attempting to enter the state from Cuba, and we should hold all immigrants to the same standards in order to ensure the safety and vitality of our communities.”

Congressman Farenthold’s statement is correct in some current trends of Cuban migration. With normalization becoming almost a sure thing, Cuban migrants are seeing this as their last chance to take advantage of the law before they are put on the same playing field. Not even NATO allies have the easy access into America as the Cubans do. The migrants have also been utilizing a pathway through Mexico to the US border. Though most only enter through Laredo, they eventually travel to other cities with larger Cuban communities.

Those in Congress opposed to President Obama’s approach with Cuba believe the country is still very much a totalitarian power, and that it should continue existing as an isolated state. Still, It makes one wonder whether such legislators would support a bill normalizing their immigration. If, according to them, Cuba is still the fever dream of Ché Guevara and the Soviet Union, then its people deserve to enter the United States as escapees. However, if Cuba is going to be regarded like any other country, then immigration policies will now have to be at par with those of other nations.



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